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In case you haven't heard, oft-suspended Islanders forward Chris Simon is back practicing with the team as of yesterday, is eligible to return February 21st against Tampa and will do so immediately, according to coach Ted Nolan:

"I can't see why he wouldn't get right back in the lineup. Other guys get injured and then get right back in. I don't see this as any different."

Well, I do.

Look, I didn't have a problem with the Islanders supporting one of their own when Simon was most recently suspended for stomping the leg of Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruuttu with his skate blade back in December. In fact, I supported the decision by Isles brass to help Simon seek the counseling he needed. I also, however, did not expect that he'd ever be back with the team.

Why?

For starters, it's not as though he provides a whole hell of a lot in terms of production. (His whole goal and 2 assists in 26 games this season are virtually negligible.) Moreover, his presence on the ice is not only cause for concern because of the who-knows-what-might-happen-next factor but, worse yet, when he does return, he's likely to be taking valuable ice time away from one of Franz Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini or Sean Bergenheim - youngsters who, at this point, deserve the opportunity to show the Islanders what they can bring to the team. (Comeau and Bergenheim, in my opinion, have been excellent - especially lately - while Tambellini and Nielsen seem to be putting it together a bit more as of late.)

As my fellow NYI Blog Boxer Ken Rosenblatt (known as <a href=http://islandersoutsider.blogspot.com/>"The Outsider"</a> in the blogosphere) and I discussed at the January 19th Flyers/Isles contest, the return of Chris Simon could be likened to the much-needed, highly anticipated renovation of the Nassau Coliseum, as would be provided by the proposed <a href=http://www.lighthouseli.com>Lighthouse at Long Island project</a>, and as only the actual <a href=http://lighthouseli.com/media/Lighthouse_111407.wmv>Lighthouse at Long Island promotional video</a> itself, at one particular point, so clearly describes:

"This aging player needs to be replaced by a new rising star."

The Coliseum needs to be replaced by a state-of-the-art facility.

Simon may have already been replaced by that new rising star.

Let's not go backwards here!

Let's face it, Simon no longer brings a whole lot to the team in terms of on-ice production. Suspensions aside, I'd still argue this point until I was blue in the face. His absence opened up a roster spot for Comeau who, by all accounts, has been nothing short of sensational and is only getting better. And now, while Simon's return may not force Comeau out of the lineup, another youngster is sure to find his way back to Bridgeport to make room for an aging problem child who is probably better off moving on with his life outside of the game of hockey (as a player anyway, at the very least.)

The worst part about all of this is that the Islanders official web site is actually <a href=http://islanders.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=353342>celebrating Simon's return</a> to the club. I may be going so far here as to be risking my status as a Blog Boxer and I certainly mean no disrespect to the powers that be at islanders.com (surely they are only following PR protocol) but they're making it seem like Simon's battled back from a career-threatening injury or illness or something, rather than his eighth career suspension (one that was absolutely avoidable, no less) and that irks me more than just a little. Aside from the fact that the resumption of his moribund career does next-to-nothing to improve a struggling team, I find it to be a bit much to actually portray his return as a celebration complete with "Welcome Back, Chris!" signs and spin-laden articles chock full of how much he's learned from his mistakes (again) and how he's so happy to be back playing hockey. Forgive me if I don't get all teary-eyed when Simon is announced before his first game back.

While I did think his latest punishment should have been more severe, I never said Chris Simon should be banned from the NHL forever. Part of my reasoning there was because I thought it possible that the Isles might cut ties with Simon as a player, help him take care of his off-ice personal issues and bid him farewell thereafter. That certainly would have been considered action that was noble enough to accept by all and never could have been construed as the organization abandoning one of its own. I also did not think (and do not think) that any other team would be interested in his services at that point. Essentially, in my eyes, the problem could have taken care of itself.

But now the Islanders are seemingly welcoming Chris Simon back with more than open arms. To them, it's an occasion worthy of congratulations, celebrations and well-wishings.

Grit. Heart. Character.

So says the banner at the top of newyorkislanders.com - the team's slogan for the year.

grit (n) - fortitude and determination [syn: backbone]
heart (n) - courage, resolution, fortitude
character (n) - qualities of courage or integrity

Yet only a few clicks away, we have the celebration of the return of a player who, to me anyway, shows none of the above.

I'm pretty comfortable in my assumption that I'm not the only hockey fan - and not the only Islanders fan either - who feels just this way and is utterly disappointed.

<a href=mailto:jjordan@islanderfans.com>jjordan@islanderfans.com</a>
Filed Under:   Lightning   Penguins   Rangers   Chris Simon   NHL   Islanders  
February 14, 2008 11:07 AM ET | Delete
Great blog, even if you are an Isles fan ;)
February 14, 2008 11:16 AM ET | Delete
Spot on accurate, he is poison to the league and your team. The league won't be happen until this man crushes someone's wind pipe, or paralyzes a player for life.
February 14, 2008 12:19 PM ET | Delete
Excellent blog. You said it better than I did. This guy is an absolute disgrace. I understand that Ted is great friends with Simon, but there comes a point when friends make mistakes that you can't back them up on. Tough love sometimes is the way to go, and this certainly is the opposite. The part that one of the young guys has to sit now is what infuriates me the most. Your comparison to the Lighthouse Project is dead on. I wanna be at this next game for sure just so I can boo him off the ice everytime he touches the puck. And not to insult the organization, but I thought that they were going to give Simon off-ice counseling. Ironic that this counseling was started and finished within the 30 game span he was suspended...and if he's still under counseling, HE SHOULDN'T BE ON THE ICE!!
February 14, 2008 1:12 PM ET | Delete
He is coming back, so no use chewing old soup on that. Nothing we can do will change Nolan's mind on this. Pray that, for the remainder of the season, we never have to deal with Simon in a problem situation like he has been since last year. Play out the rest of the season quietly, hopefully, and cut ties at the end. He only has a one year contract and I do not believe he will be back next year or Snow will be barraged with calls, letters, etc. for his head.Welcome to your farewell tour, Chris. It's been...well, not a blast.. more like an embarassment and a black eye for this franchise, I hope we don't see you next season.
February 14, 2008 1:29 PM ET | Delete
I am really surprised that Simon doesn't want to keep sitting around, enjoying his family, and getting paid for staying off the ice. I agree... the young kids need to keep playing so that they can keep getting better. Nielsen and Tambellini are a few weeks behind Comeau and need to get NHL experience to get better. Nolan can't sit Bergenheim after his recent goal scoring. It looks like Comeau might be "odd man out" unfortunately.
February 14, 2008 2:44 PM ET | Delete
Well if Snow can package him in a deal with a case of Pucks and give him away!
February 14, 2008 3:55 PM ET | Delete
Nice blog. He has to be on the ice, don't you know he is trying to personally tie the Flyers team suspension record this season. Haha.
February 14, 2008 4:51 PM ET | Delete
I agree 100%. Couldn't have said it better myself. After all the talk from Nolan about guys having to "earn" their spot in the lineup, this loser gets handed yet another opportunity to play and take the chance away from one of the younger guys who deserves to be there.
February 14, 2008 10:43 PM ET | Delete
I think it is the wrong move. I wish Simon the best, but he has earned the right to never again play hockey. I hope he just plays out a mellow season and hangs em up at the end. If he has anohter incident, I don't know what Campbell, Snow, Nolan, and Bettman will do.
February 17, 2008 8:09 AM ET | Delete
Come on Jon, you should know better than to think they'd turn their backs on him. Simon will rejoin the bench. He will get his 4th line minutes and fill in due to injuries. He will play out the balance of the season, however SHORT that may be. He will more than likely retire at the end of the year and will obtain an off ice position. Maybe within the Islanders organization. Maybe not. They will give him the chance to redeem himself. The rest is up to him.
February 21, 2008 4:50 PM ET | Delete
Well, I'm putting out the welcome sign to Chris. Its good to have him back. We need someone with some muscle out there to protect the kiddies (see how Comeau has been pushed around lately). Having Guerin and Comrie get into fights is not going to work. Just having Chris on the ice is going to scare the other team. His next suspension will be his last, but I wouldn't want to be the guy who pisses him off is on the wrong side of his temper. He might do permanent damage to someone (a la Steve Moore), and just the thought in the minds of the other players is enough to make them think twice about pissing him off. Advantage Isles! :-)
February 22, 2008 3:43 PM ET | Delete
There won't be another suspension.
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